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Interview with Jonnie Nelson of The Miller Hull Partnership

Jonnie Nelson (he/him)

Architectural Designer | The Miller Hull Partnership

As a designer who came to architecture by way of music, Jonnie’s approach to space is invariably affected by the ways he learned to compose — building cogent and beautiful harmonies from a single note. Understanding full well the delicate relationships between sounds, Jonnie carried this sensitivity to interconnectedness into his architecture career, and is a better designer because of it.

Much like music, architecture can be deeply moving, poetic, and symbolic. However, Jonnie believes that by digging deeper and exploring the multidisciplinary aspects of practice, we can create buildings that challenge representation, technique, and user experience. This is one of the reasons Jonnie particularly enjoys working on complex and large projects – he loves the work required to figure out how to fit a project into a nuanced patchwork of transit, people, energy, and ecosystems.


CURIOSITY in design is…

Curiosity, to me, is about learning. Kids are always learning as they climb, jump, crawl, and touch their way through the world. I want design and architecture to rekindle the sense of curiosity we felt when we were younger. Architecture should teach us something about the world and ourselves. We should find joy in experiencing architecture the way children find joy when they experience a new space.


How do you use CURIOSITY in your work?

I am most curious in my work when I have the freedom to explore and test new ideas. Seeing a design idea evolve in an iterative process engages my curiosity.


My favorite thing about my city is…

Bike lanes and public parks.


What design object/story most strongly influenced your interest in design?

I was fortunate enough to spend a summer semester in Paris as part of my architecture degree. Seeing quality “third spaces” and a vibrant public sphere inspired me to move to Seattle and work for a firm dedicated to designing quality public spaces.


What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to contribute?

I am in this profession to make architecture accessible, welcoming, and sustainable for all people. I want to contribute my ideas about how to make Seattle a greener, more walkable, more roll-able city. I want to bring more young people like myself into the profession, give them a voice, and learn from them.